Sunday, December 15, 2013

Something Tea Party Republicans Do Not Like

Amy Gutman and Dennis Thompson. The Spirit of Compromise: Why Governing Demands It and Campaigns Undermine It Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012.

Compromise has been an element of politics through the present. The recent financial crisis and avoiding default issues (circa 2012) required compromises when forging agreements within Congress and between Congress and the President. While it is often difficult to arrive at compromises, it is more difficult to enact new lasts most any other way.

The political process is changing in a manner that makes achieving compromises more difficult. The increasing costs of political campaign creates more focus on political fund raising and less attention upon political duties. Further, the increased reliance on campaign contributions from outsiders grants increase political attention to these outsiders. It is often more difficult to address the concerns of political supporters and then compromise on their views. An abandonments from their positions could led to their contributions switching to future political opponents.

Compromise is achieved when governing officials realize that compromise is more desirable than the alternatives. Compromise is achieved once enough official recognize this such that a compromise is achieved and new policy created.

The increased, almost perpetual political campaign process holds candidates and then elected officials to accepting the views of their constituencies that elected them. These constituencies generally do not demand compromise. They usually seek specific goals and desire them without compromise. Compromise may not satisfy those advocating for their political priorities.

Recently enacted legislation still finds compromise occurs where no side gets all they seek. “Classic compromise” involves reaching agreement for a common good where each side gains something. In more polarized political circumstance, compromise may require “shared sacrifice”, which is usually harder to achieve compared to “classic compromise”. It is accomplished once it is recognized that a problem requires solutions justifying the sacrifices.

Mary Parker Follett wrote of “problem solving” or “win win” solutions where both sides can divide something such that both sides benefit. It may not necessarily be an equal split yet could be a distribution where each gets components of the distribution more beneficial to each side.

If compromise fails to be reached, the legislative process usually then slows. The failure to achieve compromise can stall the progress of resolving problems facing legislative bodies.

The Tea Party is an example of a political movement that actively argues against political compromises.

Compromise is a long held political standard. The creation of Congress itself was a compromise between states’ powers (leading to the creation of a Senate where each state received two Senators) and popular power (in creating a Congress based mostly upon population).

There can be a cognitive bias against compromise when one is in a political mindset that avoids seeking compromise. On some issues, people place a high priority on principles and refuse to compromise their principles. Some scholars observe compromises are reached more on issues involving interests than upon principles. Compromise involving principles generally occur only when a part of principle is forgone to achieve the compromise.

Mutual mistrust can make is difficult to for parties to achieve compromise.

Former Senator Alan Simpson declared “If you can’t lean to compromise on an issue without compromising yourself, then you shouldn’t be a legislator.” Grover Norquist, on the other hand, seeks to commit legislators to prior agreements to not compromise on issues such as raising taxes.

“Principled prudence” is the recognition that compromise is  necessary component of achieving legislative enactments. A compromise occurs when it is seen as better than the status quo. Principled prudence often allows those who do not wish to compromise to have political cover for approving compromise.

John Stuart Mill believed compromises occur when they embody a component of each party’s principles.

When the failure to achieve a compromise creates public harm, the need to compromise   may become a moral imperative.

A compromise should include mutual respect for each party involved in the compromise. Compromises may be achieved more easily when parties lessen their focus on their differences and focus more on where they agree. Sometimes separating several issues or introducing new issues may allow parties to obtain a goal on an important issue in return for dropping opposition on another issue. During negotiations on achieving compromises, parties should reduce their rhetoric and avoid aggravating explosive issues.

It is important to note that tactics such by a majority caucus could later be used in retaliation against them when they become the minority caucus. Compromise occurs more often when parties agree not to hold grudges for past actions and to end a cycle of retaliation.

In the 1950s, an American Political Science Association committee faulted the two major political parties for not having enough differentiation between the two parties. In the 2010s, there are far sharper differences between the Democratic and Republican Parties. The increased time spent campaigning, which makes politicians less prone to compromise, and the sharper differences make compromise more difficult.

Democracies with more than two competitive political parties generally find a greater need to compromise in order to avoid political gridlock.

When legislators personally know each other better, it makes it easier for them to discuss and reach compromise. The extended campaign season requires legislators to spend more time in their district seeking reelection and less time developing contacts and friendships with other legislators.

“If politics is the art of the possible, then compromise is the artistry of democracy” the authors conclude. Greater public awareness of the political process and the need for compromise will better allow politicians to achieve compromises.


Post a Comment

<< Home